WRITING ADVICE: Note to self for 2018
SPEND MORE TIME AT DESK AND LESS TIME CHASING BUTTERFLIES
I have no recollection of taking this photo. I came across it yesterday in a pile of ‘to scan’ shots that had been lurking on my desk for a while. How could I not remember this marvellous scene – elephant family against Maasai Mara backdrop of the Oloololo Escarpment? Not only that (and I know elephants are short-sighted) but the one left-of-centre, possibly the matriarch, seems to be looking straight into my lens. And the ears are out, which is not usually a very good sign. Fortunately, though, the trunk is not up. When that happens, swift retreat is definitely called for; an angry elephant can flatten a truck.
We must have driven on and left them to their peaceful browsing. Time is of the essence; it takes a lot to fill an elephant every day – 300-400lb (135-180kg) of grass, reeds and tree parts (grass is their preferred food and they actively deforest areas to encourage grasslands, which may explain the broken tusk) and 30-60 gallons (135-270 litres) of water. A full time job then, seeing to those creature requirements.
For more about elephants see the previous post.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
Daily Prompt creature
Well, it’s hardly been gardening weather – far too wet; not at all like our good old winters where on fine, cold days you could pile on the gardening togs, balaclava and all, get out your trusty spade and dig the allotment, naturally always standing on a plank as you went so as not to compact the soil.
I actually like digging, though I’m trying to wean myself off the practice (as many of you who come here will know) opting instead for the no-dig approach which relies on raised beds and the annual autumn application of compost. Around 2 inches worth says no-dig guru, Charles Dowding, and only on the surface (he has lots of useful videos on You Tube and grows parsnips and carrots the size of cruise missiles).
The only problem with this approach is you need loads and loads of compost, and despite my having a dozen assorted piles, bins and bays of decomposing garden waste, I never seem to have enough garden-ready stuff at the right time. I also completely forgot about the autumn application as I had left my brain in the olive groves of Kalamata back in October. Drat! However, it did return briefly in December to remember to gather leaves for making leaf mould, and it’s probably not too late to go out and gather more if only it weren’t raining, and Wenlock’s likely byways a sea of slithery Silurian mud.
We also had more snow in January, but not the glistening, Snow-Queeny landscapes of December, but the dank and dreary sort followed by more rain, which soon washed it away. Except that when I went up to the allotment on Monday I was surprised to find heaps of it lurking along the sides of the polytunnels. Oh no! I remembered the old wives’ tale which says that when snow remains we can expect further falls to carry it away. Hmph. A curse on old wives for being so doomy. We’ve done snow. Now we want spring!
But then the odd thing about that is, along with our snow and frost we have also had spring, or at least if the pot marigolds are anything to go by. These are self-seeded annuals that grow hither and thither around my plot, and not even being buried for a week under December’s snow drifts stopped them flowering. When the snow receded they emerged full-on, like floral headlights, though their stems were somewhat misshapen from the burying. As anyone would be.
Anyway, here are some views of the allotment taken on Monday. I’m including some of my compost heaps – not a pretty sight, I know, but they bring joy to this gardener’s heart. Also of my parsnips, which as you will see were exceedingly hard to extract from the mud. They are also nowhere near the size of Charles Dowding’s cruise missiles, nor as perfectly formed. But then as the shed-building man who lives in my house says, who needs parsnips that big? A vaguely existentialist enquiry to which I find there is no answer…
For those who haven’t caught up yet, Su Leslie is now our very excellent host for The Changing Seasons monthly challenge, having taken over from our former very excellent host Max at Cardinal Guzman (btw fantastic ski-ing video at Max’s blog). We have thus shifted across the globe from Norway to New Zealand. Please pop over to Su’s place to see her and other bloggers’ monthly round up from their corners of the world. And please join in. The ‘rules’ are simple.
This sheep was having a lot to say for herself as she crossed the Priory parkland. Not a call of distress, more of a bad-mood grumble. Perhaps she was fed up with the snow covering her grass.
Meanwhile on the far side of the field her fellows seemed to have found something more to their liking.
And now here’s a better view of the old parkland behind Wenlock Priory – once the domain of jolly, hunting monks, and believe me, hunting was among the least of their reputed bad habits.
Thursday’s Special In the first challenge of 2018, Paula is definitely giving our little grey cells a post-Christmas shake-up. Algid was a new word for me. So here it is: cold and chilly. Now please visit Paula for the other options and some very fine photos.
I don’t think I’ve every thought about what spiders do in winter – apart from their sneaking into our house and lurking there for the duration. So I was mightily surprised on my way over the field to the allotment yesterday to find lots of webs like these among the tussocks of flattened, snow-emerged grass. I was also surprised to feel the sun warm on my head as I bent down to take this photo.
Up at the allotment, and despite the sudden warmth, all was in a state of post-snow-shock. The aged damson tree had lost a branch. The green manure mustard that I’d grown on several plots was sprawled about the place, and my pigeon defence system over the kale completely collapsed. It mostly looked damp and dreary everywhere.
But I did spy some field beans sprouting, and the self-seeded marigolds were flowering heroically. I plucked a few leeks, and leaves of perpetual spinach, chard and kale.
Then I wandered around other people’s plots, looking at what was what. At first I thought my only company was a wren, flitting like a little moth in the greengage tree. But when I reached the big conifer on the allotment boundary, I spotted a Goldcrest foraging in its branches – our tiniest British bird (I think) apart from its cousin the Firecrest. And then there were the blackbirds feasting on a hoard of fallen apples. None of them stayed around to be photographed though.
And that included the kestrel who was using the summit of an ash tree as a look-out post. It flew off as I drew near. And it was then I noticed a very strange mist creeping across the farm fields towards the town. Some shape-shifting solstice invader masquerading as miasma…?
P.S. “there’s magic in the web of it” is from Shakespeare’s Othello
Six Word Saturday Please pop over to Debbie’s for more 6SW offerings.
Well he has to be some sort of Greek god, doesn’t he? For one thing I can tell you he wasn’t wearing a stitch beyond the sarong slung round his neck though you will have to take my word on that.
We had walked down to Peroulia Beach in hopes of some good photos. It had been gloomy all afternoon after short sharp showers. Only at sunset did the sky clear and the last light bathe the Messenian Gulf in shades of famille rose. It was all rather astonishing – a pink-blushed azure sea. And if at first the son of the deity was doggedly wading backwards across this seascape, presumably making a video on his phone and thus proving rather irritating to those of us who wished to take a photograph, when he turned to check his creation I decided he very much added to the scene.
This was the challenging early Monday morning query that greeted me today on my return from the dentist. He Who Lives In My House had just spotted a headline in the Independent newspaper. This is the headline:
New pants are a cage for your crown jewels, protecting them from the ravages of the modern world (rest of Ben Chapman’s article HERE)
It seems French entrepreneur, Arthur Menard, had become so concerned about the health of his and other men’s testicles that he set up SPARTAN, so providing a new brand of chaps’ protective undergarment.
After much research, he and his team have come up with a knicker fabric that combines cotton and silver. This, they say, “blocks more that 99% of mobile phone and wifi radiation”. The silver also “has anti-bacterial properties meaning the pants should stay odour-free.”
This is all highly commendable of course. The reproductive health of present and future generations is clearly at stake here. We cannot have a scenario wherein the human race is wiped out due to obsessive compulsive Smartphone, laptop and tablet usage. That would be too daft, wouldn’t it? Except somehow, you can see it coming can’t you – our endlessly driven pursuit of pleasure gizmos and our too small grasp of the unintended, multiplying consequences; the outcomes – like ‘fake news’, ‘fake presidents’, social media tyranny and manipulation of reality that, to my mind, truly are pants. No cotton and silver mesh to shield us from that kind of fall-out.
I mentioned that the wheat was being swept off the field on Tuesday afternoon. And as I’m actually rather impressed by seeing combine harvesters in action, and the dust they make, I took a few photos from the bedroom window. But when I looked at them later on screen, I was amused to see a shapely pair of legs nudged up against the combine driver’s jeans. Aaaah. Greater love hath no young woman than to spend the day out harvesting with her lad.
And for those who also have a yen for combine harvesters…
So far my Monday has been unusually zippy. This morning I did the final edit on a short story and emailed it off to a literary magazine that specialises in ‘emerging writers’. Because the thing is, and this can be a commonly depressing condition for many long-published, but still unknown writers, after many years of publication, and awards won on three continents – (am especially proud of the Golden Duck for my contribution to children’s science fiction writing, Write Your Own Science Fiction Stories), I am still emerging. It is a damn slow process too – being half in and half out of my chrysalis. Nor am I entirely sure if those parts which are out have fully metamorphosed.
Anyway, I was quite pleased with the story and, having despatched it into cyberspace, I then felt free to go gardening for three hours. The allotment is verdant because at last we’ve had rain that has soaked into the soil. The runner and French beans have switched into prolific mode; I have a polytunnel full of groovy little yellow squashes, and the tomatoes are beginning to ripen.
Out on the plots there were butterflies everywhere, and for a while I faffed about with my Canon Ixus running after them in daft-bat mode. I also got the mower out and cut all the paths around my one and half plots – not my favourite task. Then I faffed some more, snapping an artichoke which proved a particularly absorbing subject.
Around 2 pm I thought I ought to head home and provide lunch for He Who Is Teaching Himself To Make Mortise And Tenon Joints So He Can Create A Shed Door, (where would we be without those life enhancing You Tube videos that show you such things as how to skin a dover sole, make almond milk and clean the stairs properly?) And it was then I spotted this Red Admiral on the Doronicum beside said evolving, currently doorless shed.
I am taking the butterfly as inspiration. This is how it will be when I’m full emerged. What I splash I’ll make. How high I’ll fly. Though I do hope for a slightly longer life span. In the meantime here’s a rather fascinating view of life inside a gone-to-seed globe artichoke.
P.S. Did you spot the web?
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